The Study Abroad Newsletter

Bonjour from Bruxelles

Elise Inouye
Vesalius College, Belgium

Bonjour! My name is Elise Inouye and I am a Communications/GWS major at UH Hilo. This spring, I studied communications in Brussels, Belgium at Vesalius College. I think I have two memorable events during my time abroad,

  1. traveling to Rome for spring break, and
  2. the first day of spring in Belgium.

For the first event, I had planned to go to Paris and various cities in Italy during my spring break. The day I had scheduled to leave was the day of the attacks on the Brussels airport and the metro station. Those events set me off track for a few days, it was a lot of cancelling reservations and rescheduling buses and flights.

For the most part, people were very understanding and worked well to accommodate me with refunds and other compensation. At that point, I thought my spring break was over. They didn't know when the airport would be open again, and no one was allowed in or out of the country for the first couple days after it happened. But, eventually I got it together and tried to salvage what I had left of my vacation. Rome was the last stop for me during my tour of Italy, and it was the city I longed to see more than anything. I was not disappointed. The food was absolutely amazing, and the architecture, artwork and monuments took my breath away. I only got to spend a couple days in the city, but I would definitely go back one day.

City of Brussels

The second event is the first day of spring here in Brussels. For those of you that don't know, the city of Brussels is much like Hilo. It's often overcast and cold and gray and rainy. When I first got here in January, the temperature was below freezing and it snowed for a few weeks. It was my first time witnessing snowfall, so that was really exciting, but I'm a Hawaii girl. I wasn't made for cold weather. As the months went on, the days seemed to get colder and colder. But one day, late in March, I woke up because the sun was shining through the slits in my curtains.

Elyse Inouye in Brussels

It was still a chilly 42 degrees, but the sun was out! For the first time in months, I didn't have to wear three layers of clothes and shuffle my way to a bus stop in the cold. I actually sweat on the walk home later that day! I'm sure I must have looked crazy walking around with a big, goofy smile on my face but I could literally see that spring had come. There were flowers blooming everywhere, trees were finally starting to sprout green leaves again and the sky was blue without a single cloud in sight. I never realized how much I missed Hawaii's tropical weather until that moment.